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Backpack giveaway and parent conference

MDUSD is partnering with the Sydney Paige Foundation to provide free backpacks and school supplies to students who can't otherwise afford them.

Please click here to donate: https://donate.sydneypaige.org/backtoschool24

MDUSD Adult Education will host a free backpack and school supplies giveaway from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 27 at the Loma Vista Adult Education Center, 1266 San Carlos Avenue in Concord.

Our Adult Education program will also host a free Parent Conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, September 28th at the Loma Vista Adult Education Center. 

Additional information about both events is here and in the attached flyer: https://mdae.mdusd.org/programs/pe/events.

Backpack giveaway and parent conference

 

Read More about Donations sought for free backpack giveaway to be held July 27th in Concord
Dr. Adam Clark

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is pleased to announce that the Governing Board has extended Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark's employment contract for three more years after he received a positive evaluation.

The Board unanimously approved the new contract on June 26th. It extends from July 1, 2024 - June 30, 2027 and includes a 7% salary increase instead of the 9% raise that District employees are receiving on July 1st.

Board President Erin McFerrin announced that the Board gave Dr. Clark a positive evaluation during its Closed Session. "We commend Dr. Clark on his excellent leadership, focus on students, commitment to systems-level lasting improvements and unifying our educators and staff to take action around our equity goals," McFerrin said. "Dr Clark, we’re very grateful to have you here and for your leadership." Board Member Cherise Khaund thanked Dr. Clark for his leadership and added, "we're excited to have you continue on with us."

Dr. Clark was originally appointed Superintendent of MDUSD effective July 12, 2020 for a three-year term. In 2021, the Board extended his contract through June 30, 2024. Then in 2022, the Board extended it through June 30, 2025. His new contract adds two years to his previous extension.

"I'm honored to serve the students and staff and community of Mt. Diablo Unified," Dr. Clark said. "I believe that it's been a successful four years so far and I look forward to the years to come."

Dr. Clark was named as a "2022 Superintendent to Watch" by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and is currently President of the California Association of African American Administrators and Superintendents Association (CAAASA). 

He began his education career in 1994 as an elementary teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified school district. From there, he transitioned to school leadership in Contra Costa County, serving as a middle school vice principal, elementary school principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. He then moved into district office roles, serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Student Services in the Liberty Union High School District and as the Associate Superintendent of Educational Services in Antioch Unified. Before being appointed to lead Mt. Diablo Unified in 2020, Dr. Clark served as superintendent for three years in the Vallejo City Unified School District.

Read More about MDUSD Board extends Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark’s contract after a positive evaluation
New administrators

At its June 26th meeting, the MDUSD Board approved the appointments of the following MDUSD District and school administrators for the 2024-25 school year. Click on the name of each administrator for more information.

In addition, the Board extended the contracts of Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark and Chief Business Officer Adrian Vargas through June 30, 2027. The Board also granted Superintendent Clark the authority to make additional administrative appointments before the next Board meeting on August 14th. 

The following administrators were appointed for the 2024-25 school year at previous Board meetings:

 We will update this list as new appointments are made before the 2024-25 school year begins.

*Tiffany Allison was appointed Vice Principal for 2024-25 at Mt. Diablo Elementary on April 24, but ultimately declined the position after her appointment.

Read More about MDUSD Board appoints new District and school administrators for 2024-25
image of career pathway report 23-24

MDUSD is pleased to share our 2023-2024 Career Pathways Work Based Learning End of Year Impact Report here.

The report shows that the District's Career Pathways team provided more than 200 meaningful work based learning experiences to our students. These experiences ranged from guest speakers to informational interviews to summer internships. 

The Mt. Diablo Business Education Alliance (MDBEA) will review this data as well as the District's career pathways "completer" data at its first meeting of the 2024-25 school year on September 16th. 

image of career pathway report 23-24

 

Read More about MDUSD 2023-2024 Career Pathways Work Based Learning End of Year Impact Report
Ukraine project

By Theresa Harrington Brandt, MDUSD Public Information Officer

Northgate HS student Mark Burenko's "If I could change the world" project was so successful when he was a sophomore that he continued it last summer and during his junior year in 2023-24 - and is now recruiting teens to start it up again on July 1st, with a goal of ending in mid-August. However, those interested can also sign up after July 1st and participate on a rolling basis. The project connects local teens to others in Ukraine via Zoom, helping Ukrainian students learn to speak in English and giving American students the chance to socialize with their counterparts in a war-torn country, while talking about things they have in common, as well as their differences.

"We refer to it as a 'speaking club,'" Mark said. He began the project with the idea that he would try to help Ukrainian students get better access to education, after moving to Walnut Creek four years ago from Ukraine at the beginning of the pandemic, when he was finishing up 7th grade. Mark was already in the United States when Russia started the war in Ukraine, but he visited last summer and experienced what it was like to go into a basement during an air raid, while visiting one of his childhood friends.

"I started the project because there is in fact a lot of trouble with access to education in Ukraine right now," Mark said. "The war destroyed a lot of schools, and even in the schools that are still there, students either have to work online because they don't have a bomb shelter or have to frequently interrupt classes to hide during air raid warnings. In general, learning English is very important for Ukrainians right now, since that is what's used to communicate internationally."
 
Although life for his peers in Ukraine is stressful, Mark said they enjoy talking about music, movies or books, which helps reduce their stress and relax them. He compares life in Ukraine to being stuck inside during the pandemic. "Everything feels very small and you don't feel like there's a lot of people outside your tiny place," he said. "But you get to speak to people somewhere else and know what the weather is like in California while you're in a village in Ukraine and it makes them feel the world is big and there's a lot of interesting things in it."

Since Mark still has family and friends in Ukraine, he initially contacted his old school and spoke to his former English teacher, who helped to put him in touch with some students he could speak to so they could practice their English. "It was really nice to see how excited they were to have something like this," Mark said. During the second semester of his sophomore year, more students from his class got involved and he reached out to a tutoring center director, who helped coordinate students in Ukraine to speak to the Northgate students. The woman who helped coordinate the talks advised the Northgate students not to speak about the war at first, but by the end of the second semester, some Ukrainian students became more comfortable talking about it, Mark said. For the "I could change the world" fair at the end of the second semester, Mark and other Northgate students who participated painted Ukrainian flags on their cheeks and made a Ukrainian wreath to bring attention to their project. 

To continue the project last summer, Mark contacted the coordinator of the Junior Academy of Sciences in Ukraine and she helped to sign up 780 Ukrainian students interested in speaking with American students. Of those, about 500 showed up regularly for Zoom chats with about 20 local teens that Mark recruited to speak with them from July 16-August 28, 2023. Each local teen spoke to a group of 10-20 Ukrainian students, with Zoom meetings happening two to three times a day, Mark said.

This year, Mark rekindled the project from January 13-March 23. And now, he's recruiting again for students interested in participating in his project this summer. He encourages those who are interested to download the Remind app and enter the code @spclua. Those who join via Remind will receive a message with details about participating. He invites anyone with questions to contact him at mburenko@yahoo.com.

Ukraine project

 

Read More about Northgate HS student from Ukraine continues his "If I Could Change the World" project this summer linking local teens to those in his native country
Solaris Umaña Almaráz

A year after graduating from Mt. Diablo HS with a prestigious Gates Scholarship and heading to their dream school USC to study math with a goal of becoming a teacher, Solaris Umaña Almaráz is still charting their own path and continuing to advocate for themself and other students who come from low-income, Latinx backgrounds and Title I schools. Known as "Tori" when they attended Mt. Diablo HS, Solaris (who goes by the pronouns "they" and them") changed their name at the beginning of their Freshman year. "I changed my name because I no longer want to be associated with my birth name as I am transgender," Solaris said. "I started going by Solaris/Sol when I started going to USC and told my parents officially at the end of the fall semester."

After speaking at their own graduation from Mt. Diablo HS in 2023, Solaris said they were very impressed when they attended this year's graduation and heard the Class of 2024 speakers, including their former classmate Josemit Rodriguez, who earned a Gates Scholarship this year and is headed to UC Berkeley. Solaris hopes to meet up with Josemit during the Gates Scholar Conference in Arizona at the end of June, where they will be a "squad leader" for the new Gates Scholars such as Josemit. 

Like Josemit, Solaris encourages other MDUSD students to consider applying for the Gates Scholarship as well as other scholarship opportunities and to not wait until the last minute to submit college applications. Solaris applied to 19 colleges and universities, including "reach" schools, but narrowed down their list by researching and visiting campuses, then weighing their pros and cons based on their own personal preferences and goals. Solaris also highly recommends talking to high school counselors and college and career advisors to ask questions about the application process, scholarship options and ask them to read application essays and give feedback. In addition, Solaris recommends taking AP or dual enrollment classes to earn college credits while in high school, and exploring career pathway options to help figure out what interests you and what you're good at. "The more college credit you get now, the less actual college you have to do, so there's less debt," they said. Solaris is happy that the Gates Scholarship pays for tuition and room and board, but said other expenses must be reimbursed, which means they have to pay out of pocket for some things such as transportation. Time management is a skill Solaris is still working on, but says it really starts in high school. Once you get into college, nobody reminds you about assignment deadlines or test dates. "Now, you're free, but that means you have to start taking care of yourself more," they said, adding that this is especially true if you move away from home because you can't rely on your parents as much as you do when you live with them. 

Although Solaris has not left the state, they said Southern California still feels far away and they enjoyed becoming more independent, while also having opportunities to come home during breaks, or to invite their parents to visit during Family Weekend. So far, Solaris said they are sticking to their goal of becoming a math teacher, but they are also open to exploring other options, which they said is like being open to trying new things in life, such as foods. "I'd rather do something I'm good at, but not amazing at, but that I love, than to do something I'm amazing at but I hate," Solaris said, adding that it's important to prioritize yourself. Solaris said they are good at math and want to be a teacher to help others who fear it, but they also sometimes struggle and have found that studying with other students and sharing ideas and challenges can help to overcome obstacles.

Persevering through challenges was also a theme at the Mt. Diablo HS graduation, Solaris said, noting that many speakers said that no matter where you come from, you can succeed. Solaris said they were proud of all the graduates, especially since Solaris has experienced negative bias that some people have toward Title I schools such as Mt. Diablo HS. One person, Solaris said, expressed surprise that a Mt. Diablo HS graduate was attending USC, and Solaris said they knew some students in high school who thought they didn't have to try very hard because of low expectations from other people and themselves. "Even if it's not explicit, racism and classism is still very much a thing," Solaris said. "It's very clear to see why people don't want to talk about these issues because it makes them uncomfortable, but you need to talk about it." The Gates Scholarship has brought Solaris together with other students from similar schools who have overcome barriers and are now forging new paths at top universities around the country. Like Josemit, Solaris hopes that more Mt. Diablo HS students will apply for and earn Gates or other scholarships, showing the Mt. Diablo HS community and students who come after them that they can achieve their dreams.

Solaris Umaña Almaráz

 

Read More about Gates Scholarship winner from Mt. Diablo HS in 2023 offers advice after first year at USC
2024SummerMealsupdated61024

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is serving nutritious meals to all children ages 18 or younger at 19 schools and the Concord library.

Meals are served Monday through Friday (except at the Concord Library) at no cost under the Summer Seamless Meal Program. No identification is required, and participants receive one meal per service, which must be consumed on-site.

Nineteen schools in the District provide breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.

The Concord Library at 2900 Salvio Street only serves lunch from 12-1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 1. Breakfast is not available at this site.

Please note: No meals will be served on Wednesday, June 19th due to the Juneteenth Holiday.

Meal service at most schools ends on July 3. Bancroft, El Monte and Monte Gardens elementary schools will continue meal service through Aug. 2.

For more information, call 925-682-8000, ext. 3775, or visit MDUSD's Food & Nutrition Services web page or click here.

2024SummerMealsupdated61024

 

Read More about Free Summer meals for children 18 and under at 19 MDUSD schools and the Concord Library
Counselors, social work specialists and college and career advisors

MDUSD is proud of the comprehensive supports we offer to students in grades TK-12 to help them overcome challenges in school, as well as in their lives, so they can succeed academically and grow socially and emotionally as they progress through our schools. To highlight these supports and the staff members who provide them, MDUSD hosted its First Annual End of the Year Counseling and Support Team Showcase on Wednesday June 5th, featuring counselors, college and career advisors and social work specialists from every high school feeder pattern in the District, said Stephanie Roberts, Director of the District's "Multi-Tiered System of Support," or "MTSS."  The showcase also included special programs for students districtwide including wellness centers, expanded learning programs, work-based learning, support for students who are newcomers from other countries, homeless and foster youth, and Youth Empowerment Services (YES) for those who have not graduated from high school after four years.

It included display boards featuring one-page descriptions of the work counselors, social work specialists and college and career advisors are doing at each of their school sites. One-page mid-year reports for each school program can be found here. The staff members who created the displays talked informally with District Board Members, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark, and administrators including school principals about their goals and achievements throughout the 2023-24 school year. They also explained how they work together to help students transition from elementary to middle school, and middle school to high school - as well as how they support students who are not able to graduate with their senior class in June because they have not yet met all of the course requirements. 

MDUSD offers three tiers of supports to students, as needed. The first tier includes strong foundational academic, behavior, and social emotional support for all students. The second tier includes a "Coordinated Care Team" of staff members who work together to provide intervention supports for students who are struggling in any of the three focus areas. The third tier includes a "Student Success Team" of staff members who assess students and work with outside agencies to provide supports for more intensive needs. To help strengthen the District's support systems, the Board on Wednesday appointed current Wren Avenue Elementary Principal Celeste Kitts the new assistant director for partnerships and MTSS for the 2024-25 school year.

Northgate HS counselors Lauren Mercado and Leanne Owen said three seniors at the school were not able to graduate this June. Two will attend summer school to make up needed credits with the goal of graduating in August along with other summer school participants, and one will enroll in the Adult Education High School Diploma program. Next year, they said they will work to ensure that all students graduate on time. College Park HS counselor Morgan Gillette and Gregory Gardens Elementary counselor Carolyn Vasicek said high school counselors meet regularly with middle school counselors and middle school counselors meet regularly with elementary school counselors to ensure smooth transitions, especially for students who may need extra support. High school counselors and college and career advisors also inform 8th graders of the options they will have in high school, including career pathways and dual enrollment courses for which they can earn college credit.

Estrella Estrada is the District's newcomer social work specialist. She helps newcomer students from other countries get signed up for county resources, which can include heath care and housing assistance, as well as English learner assistance, and sometimes special education services within MDUSD. She and Homeless and Foster Youth counselor Kim Hendrick said there is often a lot of overlap between the students they serve. Isaiah Harper, a YES Program Case Manager and Work-based Learning and Career Pathways coordinator, helps motivate students who are behind in credits to take on internships or learn about careers that may interest them so they will finish up school and be ready to explore careers, college or other options. "My goal is to help them get through," he said. "Then I start working with new students who need help."

Mt. Diablo HS counselors and College and Career advisor Erika Ramos said they hope to start up senior "graduation walks" at elementary schools in Bay Point and Pittsburg next year to help strengthen the AVID college-going theme that schools such as Shore Acres Elementary are stressing with their students. This year, seniors at NorthgateCollege Park and Ygnacio Valley high schools visited their former elementary schools in their graduation caps and gowns, cheered on by current elementary students who are looking forward to following in their footsteps when they graduate from high school themselves.

Click on these Social Media posts to see showcase highlights from Monte Gardens ElementaryWalnut Acres Elementary and Northgate HS.

Counselors, social work specialists and college and career advisors

 

Read More about 1st Annual End of the Year Counseling and Support Team Showcase highlights student supports
Graduation

Class of 2024 graduation commencement ceremonies began last month, with the Special Education Bridge Program commencement and the Northgate HS commencement on Wednesday, May 29th followed by the College Park HS commencement on Thursday, May 30th and Concord HS graduation on Friday, May 31st, and the Alternative Education program and Olympic HS graduations on Saturday, June 1st.

The Bridge Program graduation, which was not live-streamed, took place at the Loma Vista Adult Education Center in Concord. At the event, 18 graduates received Certificates of Completion after learning life and work skills that will help them transition to adulthood, supported by enthusiastic families and friends. Graduate speaker Erin McClanahan said she gained job experience working at a grocery store. "We have learned so much," she said, adding thanks to the Bridge Program staff. "Thank you to the teachers for teaching us to be our best. And thank you to our families for always being there and for helping us to be the best we can be. To all my friends, old and new, you are special to me. Good luck Class of 2024 – we did it!" Wendi Aghily, Chief of Special Education and Pupil Services, praised the students for their resilience, and ability to adapt to change, which are skills that will carry them throughout their lives. Board Member Keisha Nzewi said she was proud and happy to accept the graduating class, and teacher Lynn De Mattei thanked families for their love and heartfelt applause during the event. 

The Northgate HS graduation can be viewed here. It included inspirational speeches from Principal Kelly Cooper, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark, Board Member Cherise Khaund, graduate speakers Ella Kopper and Emily Chao, and teacher Jon Burchett.

MDUSD Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark, who attended all of the high school graduations at the Toyota Pavilion, said he was pleased to see the strong connections between staff and students at the events and he was sure that he would see the same sorts of connections between middle and elementary school staff and students at their end of the year events, as well. 

The College Park HS graduation can be viewed here. It included inspirational remarks from graduate speakers Ava Palermo and Mariah McCoy, Principal Kevin Honey, teacher Chris Ellenwood, Superintendent Dr. Clark and Board Vice President Linda Mayo. The city of Pleasant Hill posted the names of College Park HS seniors on its LED board outside City Hall throughout the weekend!

The Concord HS graduation can be viewed here. It included inspirational addresses from graduate speakers Zahra Bakhshi, Sergio Banuelos, Nadia Ortega and Abigail Flores; Superintendent Dr. Clark; and English teachers Rebecca Dell and Azeema Yahya along with campus supervisor Mike Petta, who collectively called themselves "A.R.M."

The Alternative Education graduation for Crossroads, Glenbrook, Horizons, and Prospect high school can be viewed here. It included inspirational speeches from Superintendent Dr. Clark, Board Member Linda Mayo, Crossroads graduate Karla Rodriguez, Glenbrook Academy graduate Brianna (Maddie) Le Anne Kelley, Horizons graduate Danielle Stubbee, and Prospect graduate Jesse Maruri. It also included the presentation of Mt. Diablo Council of PTA scholarships and Mt. Diablo Alternative Education Foundation scholarships to several students.

The Olympic HS graduation can be viewed here. It included inspirational remarks from Board Member Debra Mason, Principal Courtney Lyon, Superintendent Dr. Clark and graduate speakers Annalicia Alvarez, Gracie Case and Tatania Griffith; and teacher David Giordano, who received the graduate nomination for the Hilde Spritzer Award.   

The Mt. Diablo HS graduation can be viewed here. Known as the District's "Flagship School," Mt. Diablo HS celebrated 378 graduates at its 121st Annual Commencement, said Board Member Linda Mayo in a Facebook post. "The JROTC carried the Colors as the grads marched in. The immediate past MDUSD student trustee Anahi Nava Flores was the first of four graduate speakers followed by Jorena Oliver, Josemit Rodriguez Hernandez and Precious Harris. Trustee Debra Mason accepted this large class. The MDHS Alma Mater was beautifully sung by Secia Jovel. 'In the shadow of the mountain, Diablo reigns supreme….,'" Mayo said. "The future of our entire community will be enhanced by these young adults." 

The Ygnacio Valley HS graduation can be viewed here. The 290 graduates were accepted by Trustee Keisha Nzewi following the recognition of the seven prestigious Ernie Wutzke Golden Wolf Award winners. Graduate speakers included Jasmin Alfa Garcia, Yolany Morales, Maurilio Herrera, Christina Noonan, Nancy Garcia Hinojosa, Jose Armando Moreno, Maryam Ahmadi, Giovanni Gomez and Sarah Richnavsky. MDUSD Student Trustee Susana Barrios was also celebrated. "Principal Pike also recognized the support of Ygnacio Valley HS PTSA, Nor Cal Lions Club, The Rotary Club of Concord and the YVHS Alumi for their ongoing contributions," said Board Member Linda Mayo in a Facebook post. "The audience was treated to a variety of musical selections by the YVHS Jazz Band; and Morgan Voegtly on keyboard, including the complicated Fantasie-Impromptu, Op. 66 by Frederic Chopin before the commencement began." 

The Adult Education graduation took place Saturday, June 8th at the Loma Vista Adult Center in Concord. It was not live-streamed. 

A PowerPoint presentation featuring Class of 2024 Senior Awards Nights is here
 

Graduation

 

Graduations

Read More about MDUSD celebrates Class of 2024 graduates at commencement ceremonies

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